Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Adults Social Care, Cllr Anna McNair Scott, reflects on the way care is changing to better meet the needs of an increasing older population as we take time to celebrate International Day of Older People (1 Oct)
This week sees International Day of Older people, a day to celebrate our older generation and to focus on their wellbeing.
In Hampshire, the County Council spends more than £1million a day caring for older residents, and with the current population of over 75s to grow by 80 per cent by 2030 this is only set to increase. We need to change the way our older friends and family are supported and cared for if we are to continue to meet the needs and aspirations of older people.
For many people getting older is daunting. Things that used to be easy become difficult and for many it is the thought of losing their independence that worries them most. Some people still believe that if they begin to struggle with everyday tasks then the next step is to go into residential care.
This is not the case. In Hampshire we have moved away from the post Second World War model to provide care that offers residents independence and choice and offers better value.
Older residents tell us that they want to stay in their own home and we help over 10,000 residents to do this each year by providing individual home care packages whether they are physically frail or have dementia. As with everything else in the 21st century technology has a key part to play and alongside more traditional care, the Council is investing in Telecare which ranges from devices focused on preventing problems - such as a fall or forgetting to take medication - to intervention monitors which check sleep and activity.
For those people who wish to remain independent, but find their house unmanageable, or feel isolated living alone, Extra Care assisted living may be the answer. The Council is investing £45million in providing modern Extra Care, which offers people their own apartment but also the security and reassurance of 24hr care on site. Placed in central locations, Extra Care sites are dementia friendly and offer easy access to local shops and services, with onsite restaurant and facilities such as a hair salon or chiropody clinic. They are perfect for providing people with their own space, but also enabling them to be part of a community with communal lounges and gardens.
There is of course still a place for traditional residential care and the Council provides over 6,000 places a year, with 9 out of 10 of the people funded to live in privately run care homes. However, what we are finding is that people are not moving into a residential setting until much later, when their needs are more complex and often require nursing care. That is why Hampshire was the first County Council to have partnered the NHS to invest £60million to provide 10 nursing homes across the county.
We need to ensure we have a care system in place that affords our older generation the respect, dignity, independence and choice they deserve - and that is exactly what Hampshire County Council aims to provide.